The claim to fame of rosemary is often as a key ingredient in our Sunday roasts. What it less well known, however, are its myriad health properties.
Medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke introduces some of the health benefits of rosemary and the conditions it can help.
Research shows that inhaling rosemary oil can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can have a detrimental effect on health[i]. It also increases free radical scavenging activity, which can protect the body from oxidative stress.
Extracts of rosemary have been shown to have a protective effect on the liver and may help patients suffering from cirrhosis[ii]. It appears to reduce blood levels of certain liver enzymes and improve bile flow. A healthy liver can help to boost digestion.
Research shows that rosemary may be beneficial in both preventing and managing Alzheimer’s Disease.[iii] It is thought this is due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.
Rosemary may improve memory, cognitive function and increase alertness[iv]. Historically, students used to wear a wreath of lavender and rosemary around their necks when sitting exams. The lavender would quell exam nerves while the Rosemary would improve concentration.
Chewing the leaves is an instant breath freshener. The bacterial properties of rosemary may also help prevent tooth decay and mouth infections.
It is a common ingredient in shampoos and conditioners and is said to be particularly good for boosting colour in brunettes. It is also sometimes found as an ingredient in face and body creams as well as cellulite treatments – maybe on account of its beneficial effect on circulation.
Rosemary is generally safe but should not be taken internally if you have high blood pressure. It should also be avoided during pregnancy.